Five styles of Zen


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As a way to get at what "zen" is in part, thought it might be useful to post excerpts from the website of the White Wind Zen Community:

"One particular way of understanding various approaches to practice was taught by Kuei-feng Tsung-mi, fifth ancester of the Hau Yen tradition in China. He spoke of five different kinds of Zen: bompu or "usual" zen, gedo-"outside" zen, shojo-hinayana practice, daijo-Great Practice zen, and saijojo zen-"easy and perfect zen." In this sense we could say that zen with a small 'z' means simply a form of practicing.

Bompu zen means engaging in a meditation practice in order to procure the same kinds of things that one has always been looking for; that is to say health and happiness, some sense of well-being...Bompu zen is concerned only with the issues of health and well-being and that's a fine place to start: allowing ourselves to recognize the richness of our experience. It is a fine place to start, but we need not stop there...

We should understand gedo zen not just as a form of practice that isn't 'buddhist,' but as a form of practice that puts us outside of our life. That means viewing our practice as a way to feel 'spiritual,' a way to try to get something that is going to make us into a big 'S' self, something that cannot be assailed, something that cannot be brought into question, a big Cosmic self-image...

The third approach to zen would be shojo zen...This is actually concerned with trying to realize the Buddhadharma. It is beginning to work with our life as it is, and to examine our own suffering and confusion in order to not only relieve us of the symptoms but to cure the cause...Shojo zen is an approach to practice which is based on trying to grasp at realization, trying to get it, which presumes it is separate from us; and so we are running around trying to make something happen instead of attending to our experience as it is. It is only in our experience as it is that we can begin to contact the Nature of our experiencing; it is not something separate, not something underneath or above. Our own Nature is not something separate from us...

The fourth mode of practice is daijo zen or 'Great Practice' zen, which is the practice of the Mahayana...This Way embraces everything that is arising for us and is not simply concerned with our own liberation, but recognizes that the liberation of all beings is inseparable from our own because we are inseparable from all beings, and works for that liberation....Daijo zen is based on realizing your expereince and practicing it; realizing the vastness of your own Nature and realizing it is the Nature of all beings...

The fifth kind of Zen is saijojo zen which means 'Great and Perfect Practice.' It is great and perfect practice because it is not based on trying to realize anything. It is based on practicing practice. It is based on sitting the sitting. it is based on seeing what you see, hearing what you hear, not looking for the Buddha in any way but simply realizing one's own looking to be Buddha."

Take care, Earl